This Grenade Was a Nerf Football Filled With Explosives

It didn't work out.

Vintage & Historical
2 min
Colton Kruse
Colton Kruse
This Grenade Was a Nerf Football Filled With Explosives
All stories
Vintage & Historical

The Grenade Football

In 1973, the US Army made an anti-tank grenade football by hollowing out a Nerf football and filling it with explosive charges.

Official test reports say that the prototype grenade was made to be the same weight and shape of a football because soldiers would already be familiar with throwing it.

Regulation football weight is about 14 ounces, so engineers decided to make the size and weight of their tank-busting grenade to the same specifications.

How Well Did It Work?

“It did not work as envisioned.” – Army documentation

While the grenade football may have weighed the same as a normal football, it still wasn’t the same. As regular footballs are hollow inside, the weight is distributed evenly, allowing for consistent throws. The prototype, however, was filled with explosive elements, which gave the ball a wild and unpredictable flight.

Other Sports Ball Grenades

US weapon designers have often been cited with referencing baseballs when designing hand grenades.

The Office of Strategic Services (which eventually became the CIA) worked to develop grenades the same size and weight as baseballs in order to take advantage of American’s familiarity with the sport.

Known as the “beano” grenade.
Known as the “beano” grenade.

Designers insisted on the fuse being integrated into the body of the grenade to adhere to the baseball’s spherical shape.

Unfortunately, this resulted in an overly sensitive trigger that had a tendency to activate prematurely.

Today

Now the military has given up on trying to engineer a competitive edge by associating grenades with sports balls.

For a long time, the Army taught soldiers to throw grenades like baseballs, or to use the T method, but due to the ever-evolving nature of war, they now let soldiers use whatever method works best for them.

Soldiers may use baseball analogies, but it is no longer mentioned in official documentation. Soldiers instead rely on practicing with actual dummy-grenades.

Marine hand grenade throwing practice.
Marine hand grenade throwing practice.

About The Author

Colton Kruse

Colton Kruse

Starting as an intern in the Ripley’s digital archives, Colton’s intimately familiar with the travel…

By this author

Was Drink Toasting Originally a Way to Avoid Poisoning?

Was Drink Toasting Originally a Way to Avoid Poisoning?

Is the Phrase 'Saved by the Bell' About Being Buried Alive?

Is the Phrase 'Saved by the Bell' About Being Buried Alive?

Questions Surrounding the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Questions Surrounding the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Read All Their Stories

Or Explore Our Categories

Have an Amazing Story?

At Ripley’s, we’re always in search of the unbelievable – maybe it’s you! Show us your talents. Tell us a strange story or a weird fact. Share your unbelievable art with us. Maybe even sell us something that could become a part of Ripley’s collection!

Have an Amazing Story?

Read More Ripley's

Take things to the next level! Ripley’s twentieth edition annual book is full of all-new, all-true stories from around the world.

Escape the Ordinary book
Buy Now
Swirling Pinstripe backdrop
Ripley's Cartoon of the Day

Sunday Cartoon! - May 19, 2024

Cartoon of the Day

LaVerne Biser, a 105-year-old Texas resident, has witnessed 13 solar eclipses.

Ripley's Cartoon of the Day

Robert Ripley began the Believe It or Not! cartoon in 1918. Today, Kieran Castaño is the eighth artist to continue the legacy of illustrating the world's longest-running syndicated cartoon!